Sit-ups are a common exercise done to increase abdominal strength. However, did you know that sit-ups utilize the hip flexors to a great degree? A lot of people with back pain have tight hip flexors. Thus, doing sit-ups might not be the best exercise if you have these issues.
Furthermore, if you have thinning bones (osteoporosis or osteopenia), Dr Sinaki, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, has shown that people with osteoporosis, who do a lot of flexion exercises (crunches and sit-up) have more compression fractures than people with osteoporosis who do not exercise!
Finally, if you have had a spinal fusion, you have to watch out for adjacent segment hypermobility (ASR). ASR is caused by the fusion restricting movement (as it is meant to do) and then creating forces above and below the fusion- creating more movement (eventually hypermobility) in these segments. Therefore, if you have had a spinal fusion, it is important to work in neutral spine and to be careful with range of motion of the spine, above and below the fusion. Sit-ups create a lot of of flexion through the whole spine and is not a recommended exercise.
There are a multitude of exercises that you can do to get stronger in your core: planks, side planks and also lumbar stabilization exercises. However, the design of the patented Hooked on Pilates MINIMAX can be utilized for strengthening the core, the spine and beyond. The picture, here shows an exercise which mimics a sit-up but the MINIMAX, maintains the spine in neutral as the body rocks forward.
There are three different ways that a person can lie on their stomach, on the MINIMAX. Being able to lie on your stomach is important to develop more strength in your back muscles and is vey important to posture cannot slouch when you on your stomach. Unfortunately, lying on your stomach can be difficult for a lot of people because of spinal tightness, hip tightness and also spinal surgeries. In this picture, the MINIMAX allows me to lift my arms and legs to neutral (parallel to the ground), without going into hyperextension of the lumbar spine. This is important for people with Lumbar Fusions and Lumbar Spine Fusions.
Please reach out if you have any questions!